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Spring 2020

MSCP 80500: Dante's InfernoGC: Wed, 4:15pm-6:15pm, 4 credits, Prof. Paola Ureni. Cross-listed with Comparative Literature. 

This course will read Dante’s Inferno in its entirety, and address the first canticle within the frame of the whole poem. Besides considering the relation to the purgatorial and paradisiacal dimensions, we will investigate the Infernoin connection to other works by Dante, such as the Convivioand the Vita Nuova. The course will highlight the interdisciplinary aspect of Dante’s poetry, through the consideration of different contexts, which frame – or reframe – the poet’s work. We will read the ethical failure of the infernal characters in relation to broader contemporary intellectual debates; we will explore concepts such as the idea of balance and the correspondence among philosophical, linguistic, scientific – even medical – forms of harmony, whose lack we will relate to the concept of sin in Dante. We will investigate the interrelations among different fields of knowledge – such as theology, philosophy, political thought, ethics, and science – and we will explore how they exemplify the medieval discussion about human nature. Through the attention to both content and language – more specifically identifying significant lexical threads – we will read the poet’s syncretic consideration of the relationship between classical authors and material, and contemporary theological tenets.  


French 71000: Espaces, lieux, identités, exclusions, 12e-16e siècles, Wed, 6:30pm-8:30pm, Professor Francesca Canadè Sautman

This course, taught in French, focuses on the question of “spaces, places, identities and exclusions” from the French central Middle Ages to the late 16th century. Students from all programs are most welcome but must be able to do most (not all) of their readings in French and follow class presentations and discussions in French. They may, however, do all their work (including oral presentations and interventions in class conversations) in English.

The course explores how communities and individuals articulated notions of space and identity in texts while addressing the tensions of socio-political contexts and other frames of experience, such as gender. Consciousness of the self was implied in historically defined identities based for instance on religion, but also in relationships to theoretical notions of space and to specific places (neighborhoods, cities, regions—or gardens, forests, and waterways). The writings of the ceramicist and self-taught savant Bernard Palissy, a committed Protestant persecuted for his religious beliefs, treat nature as an animate being endowed with agency, and resisting the assaults perpetrated by human exploitation. Yet, awareness of spaces and places, marked by individual story or collective history and tied to identity integrations or exclusions, took shape in a meandering course, itself worthy of study, since the Middle Ages.

The course examines this process and some of its most salient moments through a dozen literary, polemical, or didactic texts :  Chrétien de Troyes ( ?1130-1194), Perceval ou le conte du Graal ; Guillaume de Lorris (c. 1200-c. 1240), Roman de la Rose 1, introduction ; Adam de la Halle, Le Jeu de la Feuillée (entre 1285 et 1288) ; Christine de Pizan (1364-c. 1430) Le Livre de la Mutacion de Fortune (sections) ; François Villon (1431-c. 1463), Le Testament ; Clément Marot (1496-1544), L’ Enfer ; Marguerite de Navarre (1492-1549) Miroir de l’âme pècheresse ; Bernard Palissy (1510-c. 1590) Recepte véritable par laquelle tous les hommes de la France pourront apprendre à multiplier et augmenter leurs thrésors; Guillaume Postel (1510-1581) L’Histoire mémorable des expéditions depuys le deluge faictes par les Gauloys ;  Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), Journal de Voyage, (sections) and essays « De l’Exercitation » and « Des Cannibales »; Agrippa d’Aubigné (1552-1630), sections of Book  I of Les Tragiques. Topics range from the garden’s codification of the social order through allegory in Guillaume de Lorris’s Romance of the Rose, how the innovative play the Jeu de la Feuillée combines the medieval poetic congé with multiple forms of social alterity; how the 15th-century poet Villon expresses urban space and marginal identities; to Marguerite of Navarre’s exploration of the violence of interior spaces and affective links to a perception of hostile nature.

We read critical texts from current scholarship in medieval and early modern studies on ecocriticism, nation-building and early colonialism, and on the inception of a consciousness of the self; other modern theoretical and philosophical texts include works by Jane Bennett,  Patrick Boucheron,  George Didi-Huberman, Michel de Certeau, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and  Emmanuel Levinas.

Required work for students in 4 credit courses: readings; mid-semester paper; one oral presentation; a substantial research paper; in-class and electronic participation through Blackboard. 2-credit courses: one short midterm paper, one oral preparation OR a second short paper. Students in a 3-credit system : as for 4 credits, but 10-15-pages only for the final paper, and optional participation in online blog.
Please look for a pre-syllabus (course work details, class meeting topics and main readings, some bibliographical tools) by the end of the Fall semester on Blackboard or contact me for details ( See full description in French on French doctoral program website.